GLIMPSES OF THE MYSTERY
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There is something deeply disturbing about mirror images. It's tempting to think that this fact might just be a matter of cultural history, given that there are horror films o'plenty that make terrifying use of mirrors (the mirror scenes in The Shining and the Poltergeist series, for instance, surely saw to it that I'd have a troubled relationship with mirrors growing up, and all the unnerving mirror mythology in Twin Peaks certainly hasn't helped in adulthood).
It's more likely, though, that mirrors and mirror images have become a favorite go-to trope for unsettling us for the more elemental reason that mirrors remind us of our finitude and our naked vulnerability in a whole host of ways: looking into mirrors, we admire and lament our fleeting youth and beauty; we canvas and catalogue our faults, learning to hate ourselves; we put on masks, fashioning who we are to the demands of voracious and judgmental others; but most of all, we disengage from the world, turn our backs to it, and become consumed by doubles of ourselves--an act that mirrors our original alienation from a world with which we were once one until self-reflection arose and shattered the one into many.
This alienating but inevitable act of turning away from unity and giving birth to plurality is precisely what is on the "Log Lady" Margaret Lanterman's mind in her final introductory monologue of the original series. In introducing the fateful episode 29, which infamously ends with Evil Dale seeing Bob gaze back at him through a shattered mirror, Lanterman says: "And now, an ending. Where there was once one, there are now two. What is a reflection? A chance to see two? When there are chances for reflections, there can always be two or more. Only when we are everywhere will there be just one."
After 25 years of waiting to find out what's behind the mirror, and now 7 episodes of knowing that the answer is something deeply wicked, it's a tantalizing prospect that our fractured hero Special Agent Dale Cooper can somehow find a way, like the Log Lady says, to eliminate "chances for reflections" and "be everywhere" so that "there can be just one."
Ain't no unity to speak of yet, though. Indeed, the mirror images and flipped doubles are multiplying by the episode. There are too many to count, but here are a few of my favorite goodies (a couple of which may well be production errors or mere figments of my imagination--even so, you've got to love a show with a mythology so deep that mere continuity errors can be reasonably thought to have abiding significance for the series).
1. Mr. C.'s flipped greeting to Gordon Cole--In saying, "It's yrev, very good to see you, old friend.", Mr. C. alerts Gordon to the fact that there's a doppelgänger at the wheel of Special Agent Dale Cooper.
2. Mr. C.'s flipped left ring-finger print--Special Agent Tammy Preston discovers this discrepancy between the print of Cooper's left ring finger from his FBI file and the print of Mr. C's left ring finger from his Yankton intake in Part Five and then briefs Cole and Rosenfield on the plane to Yankton for Diane's visit with Mr. C. in Part Seven. In discussing the discrepancy en route to Yankton, Cole points out to Preston that the left ring finger is "the spiritual mound--the spiritual finger," as if to suggest that, though Mr. C. might be able to bear the other nine prints without a problem, he can only display a mirror image of the print for the finger that contains Cooper's unique spiritual blueprint.
3. Ike "The Spike" Stadtler's flipped palm flesh-wound--This one is much more subtle, and I'm still unresolved as to whether it was intended, but given context clues and Lynch's legendary attention to detail, it would surprise me if it turned out to be a mistake. In Part Seven, during the struggle between Cooper and Ike "The Spike," the Arm pays an unexpected visit to a pavement in Las Vegas near you, screaming at Cooper to "Squeeze his hand off! Squeeze his hand off! Squeeze his hand off!".
Cooper obliges the Arm, and as is clearly discernible from the above photograph, he is squeezing Ike's right hand against the right-side grip (pointing forward) of the handgun. After a second wicked blow to the trachea, Ike has had more than enough and pulls away from the struggle with a visible wound on his right palm, presumably leaving the flesh on the right-side grip of the gun behind, as is clearly discernible from the photograph below.
After dusk has fallen, however, and the forensic team has arrived to sift through the evidence at the crime scene, we see a curious sequence in which one of the officers clearly has to wrench Ike's palm flesh from the left-side grip of the gun (pointing forward) rather than the right-side grip of the gun, to which it would surely have been affixed given the photographic evidence above. Notice too, in the photograph below, that the sequence of the left-side grip of the handgun being stripped for evidence is not just in the background, but is a very intentionally spotlighted close-up.
What has happened here? Are we to believe that Lynch (1) showed us a close-up of the Arm telling Cooper to squeeze Ike's hand off when his palm is clearly on the right-side grip; (2) chose to put Ike's departure from the scuffle into slow motion in order to enable us, if briefly, to see the wound on Ike's right hand; and then (3) chose to put a close-up of the gun literally under a spotlight depicting discontinuous placement of Ike's palm flesh? Or is this yet another instance of flipping in which, perhaps, the Arm's intervention or Ike "the Spike's" as-yet-undisclosed dark origins in the Lodge have changed the game?
4. Ruth Davenport's decapitated head's flipped eye wound (?)--Against this backdrop, we're ready for the big reveal...or perhaps just a gaping window into my wild imagination. My first thought upon seeing Ruth Davenport's decapitated head was that "This is no ordinary wound; it looks as though it has been cauterized by some strange molten metal or white hot light--this has got to be significant." Once it was revealed that Major Briggs' body was under the covers, it seemed even more plausible that something extraordinary was responsible for Ruth's death--something, perhaps, that shone through from another world. Perhaps she and Briggs, the thought occurred to me, were occupying parallel, overlapping spaces in different dimensional planes and some overwhelming force of interdimensional power shot through them both, leaving Davenport's head and Briggs' body in our world and Briggs' head and Ruth's body in some other place. But what could this overwhelming force of inter dimensional power be?
Given that I've been casting about since Part One for some stranger-than-average way to explain Ruth Davenport's golden cauterized eye, I've been keeping eyes peeled for potential doubles. And given the recent influx in flipped doubles in Part Seven, I've been keeping an eye out (sorry--last intolerably bad eye pun) for a flipped double for Ruth. Then like a bolt of white light from Laura Palmer's face, it hit me! Actually, it was quite literally a bolt of white light from Laura Palmer's face, and in particular it was THIS bolt of white light from Laura Palmer's face from the opening credits:
My partner kept telling me that this image had to be some sort of clue, and we always religiously watch the opening credits, quipping that no one in their right mind skips through this sequence. But what if it really is a skeleton key to the whole business? I thought to myself: "This image reminds me of Ruth Davenport's cauterized eye."
Then I thought: "Why shouldn't there be some sort of cosmic connection between Laura Palmer and Ruth Davenport. After all, they occupy the very same narrative space across twenty-five years as the women whose deaths kick off the action in some sleepy little town, exposing an underbelly of corruption in the least likely places and leading to...LODGE INTERVENTIONS." Moreover, the recent revelation that Briggs' body was aged at "late forties" even though he would have been in his seventies (and we know that aging occurs in the Lodges, thanks to Cooper's aged appearance in Las Vegas) made me wonder whether whatever overwhelming force thrust Davenport and Briggs together might have flipped or fused their attributes in some way, such that Briggs' body reflected Ruth's age. If that's the case, Ruth and Laura would be roughly the same age--in the neighborhood, anyway. Finally, the weird way in which Ike the Spike's wound ended up flipped made me wonder whether maybe Ruth's was flipped too.
Grasping at straws, I decided to see what would happen if I flipped the image of Ruth's cauterized wound and then superimposed it over the image of Laura's beaming eye. The result took my breath away.